The four areas of real estate leadership you need to get right: Andrew Acton

When it comes to how we define success in real estate, it’s easy to get bogged down in the numbers. Here, Explore Property group leader Andrew Acton reveals how you can lead your team to success.

Sales, KPIs, listings, publicity; these are all important. But as a real estate leader, there are a few things you need to get right first, before you become mired in the nitty-gritty. 

1. Get your roles right

The overarching role of a leader is to take the business on a journey. If there is no vision, there is no future.

But to make the journey a successful one, it’s imperative that the roles within the business are filled by the right people, and that those people properly understand the part they play in helping the team reach its destination.  

For an agency to run smoothly, the operation should be broken into three key employment categories. 

Functional: these are key people in your business; they do the work of interacting with the public, and carry out the hands-on tasks that make things happen.

Functional roles include property management, sales, and administration – detailed work that brings in the revenue. 

Management: these are the people who support the functional people, but many have dual roles. For example, a good agent might be actively selling, but also manage a team. The same goes for property managers, who perform functional work, but may also oversee staff. It’s management’s job to ensure the people doing the functional work are supported.

Leaders: these are the people who take the team, and the business, on a journey. Leadership means stepping past the detail, understanding the big picture, and staying on track. Most real estate leaders start in the functional space, and that’s why it can be hard to let go. That’s not to say leaders can’t still fulfil a functional role to some degree – if they have a talent for selling, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t do that, but they can’t live and breathe the functional space if they want the business to grow. 

I know from personal experience, that maintaining focus on the big picture, without getting caught up in other areas, can be challenging.  

For me, the key to transformation was embracing delegation. Get good people around you, delegate to those people, and then concentrate on your primary role.

2. Authentic engagement

It’s critical for leaders to remember that while it is their job to lead the team, they’re also a part of the team, and the rest of the group needs to know that. 

A good leader will be approachable, and totally willing to engage with their people. 

You can’t be an effective team member if you don’t want to be there, and it’s a leader’s job to ensure everybody does. 

Being available and checking in is such an underestimated aspect of leadership. If you want your team to know you care – be available 24/7. Engage whenever they need you, but don’t wait for problems to arise, call just to check in, and spend time in the office if you can. 

You might be the team’s leader, but never forget that everyone within it is equal. No one is higher or lower than you, and when you genuinely understand this, you’ll achieve authentic engagement. 

I believe the most valuable aspect of any agency is the relationship between a leader and an agent. 

The conversations, the celebrations, the sharing of difficult times, the trust, and the generosity; these elements are more important than technology or systems. 

Good relationships in your office, just like in the community, create great businesses.

3. It’s not all about the numbers in real estate

Using KPIs, numbers, and reports to motivate good people is an overrated technique.

Good quality agents have their own personal drive and ambition, and that’s best supported with good engagement, support, and encouragement from their leader. 

Sure, having a plan and setting goals is beneficial, but when people feel appreciated, and are encouraged, they become unstoppable.

We all want to be somewhere we feel we belong. The power of simple encouragement lifts people, and when we feel great about ourselves, we transfer that good energy to our clients and broader circle.

Any real influence I’ve had with both agents and leaders hasn’t come from a place of numbers, but from a place of encouragement. 

Having set recurring meeting dates is a good thing, but my approach has always been that you can approach me anytime about anything.

That doesn’t mean leaders and agents have to agree on everything, but knowing your team leader genuinely cares and has an interest in your wellbeing, ensures people feel valued; and where there is value, there is productivity.

Help people to push through the problems and believe in themselves, that’s when the magic happens. 

4. Check yourself

I’ve always said the biggest threat to my business was myself; my own headspace and my ability to stay focused is what powers my business. 

As a leader, it’s important to check on yourself frequently, and monitor your own mindset above all else. 

If you don’t look after yourself you can’t look after others. When your mental health isn’t in the right place, it’s difficult to move forward. Being a positive leader doesn’t mean you’re always up though. In an ever-evolving world, our own mental health can be really tested, but leaders know that all situations eventually pass. 

Living in the moment and becoming reactionary is a sign of someone bogging down in detail, rather than focusing on the bigger picture.

In reality, there are no genuine threats to your business besides yourself. 

You are equipped to handle all challenges that might come your way, and this is where the industry’s long-standing and most influential operators have really shone. 

They’ve simply understood that challenges are part and parcel of running a business, and if they maintain their own presence and composure over time – anything is possible.

More powerful than any words, is the silent presence of someone who believes in their path and the path of their business. Your mindset is contagious. People don’t listen to words as much as they feel the genuine presence of an authentic leader. 

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Andrew Acton

Andrew Acton is the founder and leader of the Explore Property group. He is a second generation real estate agent and has extensive experience operating successful real estate businesses